Visual weight – the importance of cover art in vinyl albums

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskapTekniska högskolan

Author: Anna Tim; [2011]

Keywords: ;


The vinyl album record cover was long one of the primary ways for bands and artists to expose themselves visually. During the 1950's, experimental design was seen particularly in jazz covers, while the early rock music had a more direct and commercial approach to cover design. As rock and popular cultures in the 1960's developed, the record package evolved as an artistic form of expression and visual representation of music. Expressions mainly associated with traditional art was absorbed by popular culture and has had a decisive effect on the current view of the record cover as an art form. In the 1970's, there was an increasing diversification of popular music and a more clear distinction between commercial mainstream music and alternative music, which is reflected in the album covers. During the 1980's, the music video played an important role in how music and the artists were presented visually. New formats as the audio cassette and CD took over the role of the LP on the disc market. During the 1990's when independent labels and artists reached a wider audience, several of their album releases were on vinyl formats. Internet and file sharing of music, has had a significant impact on the music industry in the 2000's and there is a decline in the sales of physical media such as CD's. As a consequence, opportunities for independent operators to spread their music has changed radically. At the same time there is an increasesed interest in the vinyl record as an alternative or a complement to digital music. This increased interest in vinyl albums has largely to do with the visual expression of the album cover in relation to CD's and digital files, as well as with the physical form of the LP and its characteristics as a collector's item.

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